As a mother of two, my heart bleeds for the parents of Lauren Spierer, and any other parent who is forced to endure the agony of not knowing their child’s fate. I can remember when my sons were three years old and one of them was “missing” in a Chuckie Cheese for fifteen minutes. That 15 minutes dragged on like hours. As each minute ticked by, I imagined all sorts of frightening possibilities. Therefore, I can’t imagine what it must feel like to not know where your child is; even your adult child, for days, weeks or even months.
Recently, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts offered a $10,000 reward to find missing college student Lauren Spierer. And, in the days since her disappearance the media coverage has been quite extensive. From the moment it was clear that Spierer was missing, the police lodged an expansive search for the missing coed. But what about, women like Phylicia Barnes, Tamika Huston and Romona Moore. Could the daily, large-scale media coverage have saved their lives or at least lent support to their families during an agonizing time?
In the case of Romona Moore, her mother Elle Carmichael, would answer a resounding YES! In the Spring of 2003 at approximately 7:00 p.m., Romona Moore told her mother she was going to a local fast food restaurant and would soon return. However, Romona never returned. She was a bookish Hunter College student who never partied and as far as her mother knew, had never even had a real boyfriend. She spent most of her time in the library and when she wasn’t studying, she was working part-time as a receptionist. Despite the fact that Romona always called her mother if she was going to be late coming home, her mother took into consideration the fact that her daughter was now 21-years old and instead of reaching out to the police immediately, she decided to wait, at least until morning. Elle Carmichael called 911 at 9:00 a.m. when morning came and her daughter was still not home.
The police arrived and took a report, after Carmichael begged them to. However, they were sure to mention that they really didn’t have to. The officers suggested that Carmichael file a missing persons report that evening, as her daughter would then be missing a full 24 hours. When Romona did not return that night, Carmichael did exactly that. Interestingly enough, when Carmichael filed the missing persons report she was admonished for bothering the police with a report for a 21-year old and told that the police officers that initially arrived at her home should NEVER have taken a report in the first place and the next day, the complaint was marked “closed.”
For four days Carmichael and family and friends searched for Romona Moore, when it was clear that police would do nothing. In fact, one of the families’ leads paid off, and they eventually found Romona. Unfortunately, it was too late. By the time police grudgingly followed up on the families’ lead, Romona Moore was found dead. For four days she had been chained in a basement and raped and tortured by two psychopaths. Ironically, the day that the police finally went to the residence where Romona was held, was the same day she was beaten to death by her captives.
Laci Peterson, Natalie Holloway, Jon Benet Ramsey…Lauren Spierer; those names will probably ring in all of our memories for years to come, but what about Phylicia Barnes, Tamika Huston…and yes, Romona Moore. What about their lives? What about their families’ loss? Why was there no large-scale nationwide search for these women; no daily, extensive media coverage, no obvious police presence? Were their lives any less worthy of being sought, with as much vigor as the search for their white counterparts, simply because of the color of their skin?